During a portion of today’s OTA when position groups were working on their own, each of the three lines of defense — the defensive line, the linebackers and the defensive backs — went to work with coaches. Except the coaches were not their own. The linebackers headed over to pass rush coach Tom Pratt. The defensive backs were with linebackers coaches Bob Sanders and Larry Foote. And the defensive line was working with secondary coaches Nick Rapone and Kevin Ross.
It’s part of the “tackling circuit,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. For instance, he said the defensive backs were working with Sanders on how to come off a cut block to make a play. “It’s just to work on all that,” Peterson said. “Get different looks.” The players rotate daily.
There is only so much tackling work you can ever do at practice. Getting after a tackling dummy and/or sliding off a blocking sled to get in the right position to tackle is about the extent. Added benefit of this sequence: All the defensive coaches get time with all the different players on that side of the ball.
Tags: Bob Sanders, Kevin Ross, Larry Foote, Nick Rapone, OTAs, Patrick Peterson, tackling, Tom Pratt
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Bruce Arians made it pretty clear the other day where his quarterback depth chart stood. The third quarterback spot is “wide open” as a competition, a comment that both solidified Drew Stanton’s status as Carson Palmer’s backup (not a surprise at all) and left the rest of the offseason and training camp to an interesting situation for Logan Thomas (which might be a little more surprising.)
When the Cardinals signed Chandler Harnish, it was easy too look at it as adding an extra camp arm — the Cards always have four quarterbacks around — who was familiar with Arians’ system. Thomas was a guy who figured to be around at least one more season so the team could figure out if the 2014 fourth-round pick could indeed develop into an NFL quarterback. Then the Cardinals decided to sign tryout QB Phillip Sims and suddenly, the Cards had five quarterbacks. Maybe, if Palmer was further back in his rehab, all those arms would be important. And, truth be told, the full boat of QBs could still be partially about Palmer relief this summer. But after Arians praised Sims recently and then noted the whole wide-open thing, well, then you wonder where this could go.
With two practices running simultaneously during OTAs and minicamp, there are reps to share. Thomas is getting work, as is Sims — which normally does not happen much for a fifth QB. It’s so early, and right now, Thomas still seems to be the probable guy who ends up as the No. 3 QB on the depth chart once the Cardinals host the Saints Sept. 13. But Thomas still has work to do on all the things that were giving him issues as a rookie, and Sept. 13 is a long way away. While in theory the third QB spot isn’t one to focus upon in the grand scheme, the Cardinals unfortunately found out last season just how valuable that spot can become — and why this is a deep depth chart battle that still bears watching.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Chandler Harnish, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas, Phillip Sims, quarterbacks
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As expected, the NFL owners voted in a change for the extra point today during their league meetings. In an effort to put a little more excitement into a play that had become all but automatic at 99-plus percent, extra point kicks must now be tried from the 15-yard line instead of the 1 — in other words, a 33-yard kick instead of one from 19 yards. The ball will remained placed on the 2-yard line if a team wants to try a two-point conversion.
And now, defensive teams can return a blocked extra point kick, or a fumbled or intercepted two-point try, and score two points of their own with a length-of-the-field runback — just like the college rule.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had said earlier in the day he was hoping the two-point try would be moved to the 1.5-yard line, to really make the decision tougher. Over the last 10 seasons, the Cardinals have tried 45 field goals between 30 and 33 yards, making 44 of them. Current kicker Chandler Catanzaro was 7-for-7 from that distance last season. (The only miss in the last decade? Neil Rackers from 32 yards in overtime in a 2007 home game against the 49ers. You know the one with the Hail Larry and Patrick Willis somehow chasing Sean Morey down from behind before Rackers’ miss. That game didn’t end well.)
There might be other factors as well in this new rule, as pointed out by former Cardinals kicker Jay Feely:
60-80 extra points per team that the defense didn’t rush hard but now they will bring it. There will be injuries https://t.co/yNqVr9Ktpx
— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) May 19, 2015
The NFL figures the new kick conversion rate will be around 95 percent. It’ll be interesting to see how many coaches risk going for two more often. The guess is that total won’t appreciably jump.
Tags: Chandler Catanzaro, Extra points, Neil Rackers
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The Cardinals had the first of their 10 organized team activities of the offseason this morning. Coach Bruce Arians called it crisp and noted the work got done quickly enough that the team ended early. Quarterback Carson Palmer looked good in limited work — more on Palmer’s drive to get back on the field in a bit when I have a story on the homepage — and Arians said there is a chance that Palmer could be back for even more reps (regular reps?) by the time the Cards reach their minicamp in mid-June. I’ll admit, when they said that once upon a time I was thinking it was much too optimistic, but clearly, Palmer has a good chance to prove me wrong.
Some other quick notes/thoughts from the first OTA:
— The draft class is doing work on Field 2 during 11-on-11 (except for OLB Shaq Riddick, who tweaked his hamstring last week.) D.J. Humphries is the third-string left tackle for now, a long way from usurping Bobby Massie. Arians said the rookies have a lot of work to do to get on Field 1, although it could happen as we go. (This is the first of the draft classes from Keim/Arians that I can remember all the draftees on Field 2. Usually someone is working on the main field.)
— Arians praised everyone’s conditioning but he particularly noted the good shape of guard Jonathan Cooper and wide receiver Michael Floyd.
— Speaking of Cooper, Arians was asked if Cooper was better at knowing when to “gut it out” and play. Arians said it’s tough to gut it out when you are simply injured as Cooper had been, including his broken leg. “You can’t gut out broken bones, unless you’re Jack Youngblood,” Arians said. “Then the coach gets sued these days. Back then, it was cool.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, D.J. Humphries, Jonathan Cooper, Kareem Martin, Matt Shaughnessy, Michael Floyd, offseason
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The Cardinals signed linebacker Darryl Sharpton last week and the timing meant something. By signing Sharpton Wednesday, the Cardinals cleared the date for free agents signing counting against them for next year’s compensatory pick equation. Any free agent signed at the point will not count.
(The Cardinals were awarded one comp pick this past draft; they ended up with the final selection of the whole thing, which they used on Lousiville tight end Gerald Christian.)
It’s too early to know exactly how the comp pick equation might play out. Part of how it’s determined is playing time in the upcoming season. It also takes into account how much money for which each player signed. A quick look at who the Cardinals could have counting for and against them in the comp pick equation next draft. As always, a quick reminder that if a player was cut by the Cards or cut by another team, he does not qualify on these lists. For example, losing Darnell Dockett does not factor in because Dockett was released.:
FREE AGENTS GAINED
G Mike Iupati (5 years, $40M)
DT Corey Peters (3 years, $10.5M)
DE Cory Redding (2 years, $6M)
LB Sean Weatherspoon (1 year, $3.6M)
FREE AGENTS LOST
LB Sam Acho (1 year, $825,000)
CB Antonio Cromartie (4 years, $32M)
G Paul Fanaika (3 years, $6.1M)
TE Rob Housler (1 year, $1.76M)
DT Dan Williams (4 years, $25M)
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see GM Steve Keim make another signing (or two) at some point before camp, or even into camp. But the numbers are set for the compensatory math.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, compensatory picks, Corey Peters, Cory Redding, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, free agency, Mike Iupati, Paul Fanaika, Rob Housler, Sam Acho, Sean Weatherspoon, Steve Keim
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There has been a ton of things written and said about the Patriots, Tom Brady and deflategate of late. That all can stand on its own — no need to rehash it here. But because of the Patriots-deserved it-Patriots-didn’t-deserve-it portion of the conversation has tentacles everywhere, in a long and winding way the Cardinals have popped up in the debate. Current Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby spoke to PFT Live, and Dansby had a moment he recalled when he and the Cardinals went back to New England in 2008 in Week 16.
You remember that game, of course (unless you’ve tried to block it from your memory.) There was no Tom Brady in that game, because Brady had been injured the first game of the season. But Matt Cassell shredded the Cards that day in the nasty snow, the Cardinals were beat up, 47-7, and people were calling the already-clinched NFC West champions the worst playoff team ever.
(Then the Cardinals nearly won the Super Bowl.)
Dansby, as a linebacker the defender who got to wear the headset in his helmet for playcalls, said his headset had never had any problems all season — until that game in New England.
“We get in Foxboro, they couldn’t get my headset fixed, for nothing in the world,” Dansby said.
Cassell had 345 yards and three touchdowns passing, and in reality, it’s hard to think the headset issue can explain away a 40-point loss, just like a football’s air didn’t impact the Pats-Colts playoff game much at all. But for Dansby, it was about the Patriots in general, which is an outlook a few players have publicly expressed.
“It’s not a secret,” Dansby said. “They gotta do what they gotta do to win, man. They gonna do what they gotta do to win. It’s just how they operate.”
Tags: Browns, Karlos Dansby, Patriots
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The Cardinals now have signed four of their seven draft picks — second-rounder Markus Golden, fourth-rounder Rodney Gunter (pictured below) and fifth-rounders Shaq Riddick and J.J. Nelson. First-rounder D.J. Humphries, third-rounder David Johnson and seventh-round Mr. Irrelevant Gerald Christian all should end up signing sooner rather than later. This is where are now with rookie contracts. Since the new CBA was put into place in 2011, there are no more tension-filled offseasons for teams when it comes to getting their draftees to sign on the dotted line.
It wasn’t always that way. Back in the early 2000s, in my previous life as a newspaper reporter covering the team, signings took the summer. No Cardinal ever seem to sign before July 4th. The days leading into training camp — and often, at least a day or two after training camp started — were spent on contract watch. Sometimes it was just the first-round pick. Sometimes, there were a couple of other contracts that were also pushing the deadline.
Now, all these guys are signed by the time the Cardinals are done with minicamp in mid-June. Everything goes faster. The Bears have made it their mission to get all their picks signed within a day or two of the draft.
(For those asking, players who have not yet signed still can work out. The team and player sign an agreement saying contract negotiations will proceed in good faith even if the unsigned rookie gets hurt. That’s what happened with Dante Fowler and the Jaguars. Fowler blew out his ACL in his first minicamp practice. A few days later, he signed his deal with the Jaguars getting the same money he would have gotten as the No. 3 overall pick had he not been injured.)
There are no more ifs with rookie contracts. It’s when, and there’s not much waiting.
Tags: D.J. Humphries, Dante Fowler, David Johnson, draft, Gerald Christian, J.J. Nelson, Markus Golden, Rodney Gunter, rookies, Shaq Riddick
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The NFL handed down its punishment of the New England Patriots for deflating footballs — and for, how the NFL and Ted Wells saw it, the subsequent cover-up. It is significant. First is a four-game suspension for quarterback Tom Brady. There was also a $1 million fine, and, as it impacts the rest of the league, the Patriots have to give up their 2016 first-round draft pick and their fourth-round pick in 2017.
Do you guys see taking air out of the balls as an advantage? I do, there’s a reason those balls were lower than regulation. #Deflategate
— Sean Weatherspoon (@SeanWSpoon56) May 11, 2015
Two of the lines from the statement released of NFL executive president Troy Vincent that came along with the punishment stood out to me:
— “We regard violations of competitive rules as significant and deserving of a strong sanction, both to punish the actual violation and to deter misconduct in the future.” In other words, we definitely want to scare teams/players out of trying anything like this going forward.
— “Violations that diminish the league’s reputation for integrity and fair play cannot be excused simply because the precise impact on the final score cannot be determined.” In other words, the footballs that were deflated might have not changed anything on the field, but you can’t be messing with the rules. Perception is reality.
The league acknowledged the trouble the Patriots got in 2007 for videotaping opponents’ signals came into play. None of this directly impacts the Cardinals. The Cards aren’t playing the Patriots this season, nor are any of the NFC West teams. Right now, Brady does stand to miss one game against an NFC team — a trip to Dallas. But there is still the possibility Brady will have the suspension shortened on appeal, and if that happens, the game against the Cowboys is the first thing to reappear on his to-do list since it would be the fourth game he would miss. (And you know Brady will appeal.) Losing draft picks helps every other team too.
Tags: NFL, Patriots, Tom Brady, Troy Vincent
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It’s not unusual for the Cardinals to sign a player or two who attend their rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. This year, that reportedly includes a quarterback. NFLdraftdiamonds.com said Sunday the Cards are signing Winston-Salem State’s Phillip Sims, who along with Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly, was a QB the Cards brought in for minicamp. There has been no official announcement from the team as of yet (and the Cards will have to cut someone once it’s official) but the post did include a picture of Sims in the Cards’ offices. (al.com also reported the signing.)
The Cardinals already have four quarterbacks on the roster — Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas and Chandler Harnish. It’s possible Palmer will be dialed back for OTAs, and the Cards just want to have an extra arm around for the next few weeks of the offseason. Or maybe Sims impressed enough to displace Harnish. Sims started his college career at Alabama and was in the mix as Tide QB before eventually losing out to A.J. McCarron. Sims, 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, had 15 touchdowns and four interceptions as a redshirt senior at Winston-Salem while sharing playing time.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Chandler Harnish, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas, Phillip Sims, rookie minicamp
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The Cardinals are going through rookie minicamp this weekend. They started Friday, it goes through Sunday, and it’s a chance for the draft class and the undrafted rookies to get some work on their own before being thrown in with the veterans. That’s a good thing — it was hard to go through two consecutive plays Friday without having a coach at some position verbally blister a player for a mistake. The Cards will come together as an entire team next week. There is one more week of Phase 2 work, and then OTAs start May 18.
— There are a lot of questions about Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly. Kelly is here as one of the quarterbacks (as is Phillip Sims of Winston-Salem State) because to have a practice you have to have quarterbacks. But both are only here on a tryout basis and I do not expect Kelly to be with the Cards beyond this rookie weekend.
— Click here for the entire rookie minicamp roster. You can see who is here on a tryout basis.
— It was interesting to hear Bruce Arians say first-round draft pick D.J. Humphries would be a backup as a rookie “in a perfect world.” It’s certainly a possibility with veteran Bobby Massie around at right tackle. We’ll see how this plays out.
— Arians praised cornerback Jimmy Legree on the first day. For those who don’t know Legree, he actually spent last season on the practice squad after making the roster through just this process — he was a tryout player at the 2014 rookie minicamp. So it can happen. Arians even thinks Legree has a chance to be in the mix at cornerback, although we’ll see what opportunity is there once the Cards figure out where, how and if Alfonzo Dennard fits.
— He may not have made any official decisions on his future, but Adrian Wilson was at practice Friday helping coach the safeties.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Alfonzo Dennard, D.J. Humphries, Jimmy Legree, rookie minicamp, Taylor Kelly
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